Pi Mai: April 13 – April 15
Laos’ Pi Mai is a public holiday in Laos.
Laos’ Pi Mai or New Year is a three-day celebration usually from April 13-15. Pi Mai is considered a traditional new year of religious in nature. The festivity is a considered as a public holiday in Laos so the working class takes their off from work to visit their families in remote towns and cities to celebrate this exciting feast.
History of Laos’ Pi Mai
The celebration of Pi Mai was originally an old tradition practiced by the Khmer and Mon-Burmese (ethnic Cambodians and Burmese/Myanmar) of Laos. The Laotians have learned to adopt the culture and tradition of above ethnic group which practice thanksgiving during the monsoon season where practically all native agricultural crops grow abundantly in the country.
Laos’ Pi Mai: Traditions, Customs and Activities
The celebration of Pi Mai is different from the first day to the last. The first day is spent watching street parades organized by local government and community leaders and its members. The second day is usually marked with “water events” where people fill up individual pales and bins as they prepare to wet one another. It is not unusual to see foreigners participate with delight in traditional water fights along with Lao residents young and old.
During the last night of the celebration, considered to be the “New Year” where members of family prepare white bands or white strings which are believed to bring good luck for the coming year. These white bands are given to someone present in the house, the receiving party gives a white band back to the giver in hopes that all members of the family will get to experience a bountiful life for the coming year. As always, traditional Lao cuisine tops the food served during the festivity.
Temple caretakers and monks wash the Buddha images before the new year starts to prepare them for incoming visitors and the faithful. Laotians around the globe, especially in areas with high concentration of Lao citizens observe the celebration of Pi Mai.
If you are a tourist, it’s advisable to be at Vientiane or Luang during Pi Mai as these cities holds a great number of activities that will surely excite every visiting tourists.